Humane Being


They called you benign
(as opposed to toxic).
Devoted (as opposed to
egoistic or treacherous).
Humble (neither arrogant
nor weak). Committed always
without doubt or hesitation
to improving the life chances
of the marginal, bypassed,
stigmatised, impoverished:
those counted out by
capitalismís strictures.

This was a noble man
who listened attentively
to those with and without
position and power,
who sought out and bridged
gaps in understanding
and justice. This quiet man
fought hard: always, as he said,
against the odds.

Education, education, education.
No mere slogan.

People, community:
more than rhetoric.

Health and housing:
affordable not markets.

Quaker and socialist values
in harmony, driving social
and political action.
Reminders of what it takes
to build and maintain
human dignity, bearable lives,
sustainable communities.

Education, education, education.

His was a long life
devoted to the relentless
struggle against poverty,
abuse, corruption and
neglect. A life committed
to shifting power to the
people, reconceiving
(or remembering)
power as service.

At meetings and in conversation
his Ďkiller commentsí cut through
obfuscation and denial,
exposing the contortions and
distortions of those seduced
by power and celebrity.

He summarised with eloquence
the idiocies and irresponsibilities
of capitalismís apologists
and lackeys (left or right,
national or local) without
malice or anger. And with
children, neighbours and activists
alike, his eyes could twinkle wickedly
and you bathed in his warmth and
positive regard of you as a
fellow human being.

Against oppression and
social violation he interposed
love (not glamour), social duty
(not careerism) and compassion
(not competitiveness).

Still cutting edge values
after all these years.

Remembering John Hamilton, who died December 2006.
Former Leader, Liverpool City Council

By Val Walsh